Thursday, November 17, 2005

Scribbled Quotes from Notebooks Past

A restless night. Dove back into old journals in the process of packing away the most recent effort into the old Corfu pack. Amazing how memory plays its tricks best on such cold, quiet, early Winter eves. So many stories. Always the theme of those writings was randomness - to preserve that elusive, haphazard saying or quote or observation for posterity, to save what would otherwise have escaped me into the air. Commitment to this is a dying habit of mine that needs renewal.

And so, a slapdash assortment of quotes from the past, one for each of the past 6 years, on an especially early Friday installment. Dates as when I read and scribbled them down to fill the empty whiteness of the pages:

Brussels - January 2000:

After you have these understandings, think of me
And of my path, who walked therein and knew
That neither man nor woman, neither toil
Nor duty, gold nor power
Can ease the longing of the soul,
The loneliness of the soul.

- Edgar Lee Masters, James Garber's entry from The Spoon River Anthology

Halifax - November 2001:

In the past and at my lowest ebbs, I used to think that maybe drink had destroyed my life, but that was dramatic nonsense and temporary gloom. Without alcohol, I could have been a shopkeeper or a business executive or a lone bachelor bank clerk. But why pick on bank clerks? The side-effects and spin-offs produced by my chosen anaesthetic have at least produced a few wonderful dreams that turned out to be reality. Even the hangover from the nightmare contains sweet nostalgia.

- Jeffrey Bernard, Sunday Telegraph

Tate Gallery, London - February 2002:

Good prose of the kind can mean much in that way, to each of us - whether it is Synge describing a funeral, Whitman describing wounded under the moon, or Joyce putting Daedalus, alone with the power of his life, on a beach in Ireland.

- Geoffrey Grigson, Blake exhibit

Apple Blossom Festival, Wolfville - August 2003:

It was a marvellous night - the sort of night one only experiences when one is young. The sky was so bright, and there were so many stars that, gazing upward, one couldn't help wondering how so many whimsical, wicked people could live under such a sky. This too is a question that could only occur to the very young - but may God make you wonder like that as often as possible. -

- Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights

Halifax - April 2004:

My barn has burned down.
Now I can see the moon.


Galway - March 2005:

There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath; like those fabled undulations of the Ephesian sod over the buried Evangelist St. John. And meet it is, that over these sea-pastures, wide-rolling watery prairies and Potter's Fields of all four continents, the waves should rise and fall, and ebb and flow unceasingly; for here, millions of mixed shades and shadows, drowned dreams, somnambulisms, reveries; all that we call lives and souls, lie dreaming, dreaming, still; tossing like slumberers in their beds; the ever-rolling waves but made so by their restlessness.

- Herman Melville, Moby Dick


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